Free entry to Nova Scotia parks, museums and art galleries

On September 14, 2011, in General, Nonformal education, by Nicole Lantz

Wouldn’t it be remarkable? I’ve been thinking about it ever since I visited the British Museum and the National Gallery in London, UK only to find, incredibly, it was all free.

Is it possible the Brits might be onto something? Galleries, museums, and parks offer communities incredible opportunities for lifelong learning. Imagine 83% more interaction with Nova Scotian art, culture, natural history, and natural spaces.

1. Cheap is not free. London has had free admission since 2001 & an 83% rise in visits as a result. It even worked when very small fees were dropped. “People often wonder where our next generation of scientists and artists will come from and I truly believe museums play an essential role in inspiring children to pursue such careers.” (Dr. Ian Griffith, Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester;  See: The Independent: Why museums must stay free).

2. Eyeballs count. Social media often leverages eyeballs – the number of people viewing them – and are worth millions even before monetizing. Others convert reputation to attention to money (See: Wired Magazine: Free! Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business).

3. Monetize parks, museums and galleries in other ways. Borrowing from these ideas, and my jaunt through London’s finest, consider this:

  • Make money from gift shops & cafés – have more of them, with longer hours.
  • Sell product placement in non-exhibit spaces – big logos on those portable seats, coffee, maybe even lighting? Make use of the eyeballs in different ways.
  • Put huge glass donation boxes everywhere with the label “Keep it free” (Yes, I saw this in action!)
  • Have amazing permanent exhibits and collections (London has some fantastic ones).
  • Charge admission to featured exhibits.

4. It must innovative. Engaging. Great. “Museums know that free entry does not deliver wide access on its own. It takes imaginative programming and marketing to change an audience profile significantly, as well as sustained development work with communities with no tradition of museum visiting.” (See Museums Association: Free admission and the lottery)

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